What makes us who we are? What makes up the light and core of our being? What stays stable and constant when all else falls away?
Life is not easy for any of us. If you are waiting for things to right themselves, to be perfect or blissfully happy in order for you to better yourself or change your life, my dear you will be waiting a long time.
Because as cliche as it sounds, life is the journey- not the destination.
I recently created an Instagram story, asking for any questions you had for me. One question kept appearing in different forms. My favorite form it took was this, “How the fuck are you so happy?”
Variations of this question repeated over and over. How are you okay? How did you transition mentally into a new space? How are you adjusting to your new life? If I were you, I suppose I would wonder this too.
Being left by the person you’ve promised your heart and life to does strange things to you. It shatters your sense of self, hits your ego, breaks your heart. It feels like being kicked repeatedly when you’re already down. I want to be very clear, I was not always in this beautiful place. And I still have a long way to go, but that is life.
I did not know it at the time of my separation, when my husband told me he no longer loved me and then moved on emotionally and physically to another life- that I was already half dead. I had bent and morphed and folded myself into someone unrecognizable. I gave up values, dreams, a healthy sex life, love languages, hopes, daily self-care, well-being, and more to try to become the person he would accept. I lost myself completely. I did this to myself willingly, no one made me do this. A pattern so many women repeat because we are told to make ourselves small and flexible and perfect and perky and perfect to please men. To please the world.
I vacillated wildly between strong, value-driven, unshakeable me and a quiet, weeping, desperate shadow. I was giving up who I was in order to be loved and admired. I broke my own heart.
You can’t fold and bend your way into real love and admiration. You have to show up fully and authentically and messily in order to find it. And guess what? When you finally show up, some people aren’t going to like it. And when you go through something big that makes the real, authentic you show up in an unshakeable way? The person who doesn’t like it may be your husband.
It may be your best friend, your sister, your aunt, your coworker. There will be an endless barrage of people that tell you to stop, tell you to quit, tell you your dreams are too big, that you’ve become too loud, too emotional, too much.
You were not made to be small. You were not formed from love and stardust and light only to give up or in when life gets hard.
Babe, someone else doesn’t get to tell you who you can be. And if you need a cheerleader along the way? Find them. Find people that feel like sunshine and love and fresh air and stay close to them. Better yet? Become your own cheerleader. Wake up so damn excited about your dreams and goals and life that when those naysayers knock on your door or enter your heart- it doesn’t matter.
Be so in love with yourself and your life that you can’t even hear them. And the ones that really try to hurt and hold you back? Let them go.
“I refuse to live as half of myself because other people can’t handle all of me,” Rachel Hollis
(Not pictured or finished yet: Miles’ room, our bathroom, and our back deck)
Minimalism has become quite the trend. With #slowliving and curated Instagram feeds of gorgeous, simple interiors. People living in tiny houses or vans, selling all their possessions to travel. I think the popularity of minimalism and a slower way of life are a reaction to the endless consumerism (and decimation of our earth) of the last few decades. I’m not bothered by the trendiness of it all.
I am only bothered by the reaction some people have to curated minimalism. Simple, slow, sustainable living is not about having a perfectly organized pantry with vintage ball jars all in a row. It is not about a stunning nursery with muted tones and no toys, appearing completely untouched.
Minimalism is a repeated daily choice to be intentional about what you allow into your life. It is about responding to “want” and “need” of new items with gratitude for all that you have now instead. Minimalism is about surrounding yourself with items that make you smile and spark joy in your heart and thanking them for serving such a beautiful purpose.
I have found, that minimalism at its root is gratitude. It is waking up grateful for the comfortable bed you slept in, the soft sheets and warm blanket. It is delighting in a hot shower and clean, fluffy towel. It is finding elation when you have a stocked pantry and fridge full of organic produce for you and your baby.
This isn’t about stuff. This isn’t about a curated number of items (although decluttering challenges can be fun and life changing). It is about waking with a grateful heart and not forgetting just how lucky we all are.
If you have a device and the time to read this blog post, think about how endlessly fortunate you are. You have a life where you can take a moment and read something that interests or delights you, on a device that so much of the world will not have access to in their lifetime. This isn’t about guilt. This isn’t about shaming yourself and kicking yourself for all that you own or past purchases. It is about choosing gratitude and joy in your life again and again, everyday.
I have the same temptations as others to go to Target and buy the latest cute items on their shelves. Tempted to let the joy of a new purchase fill me up and excite me, but it is fleeting. When I feel the urge to do that now I work to recall all that I already have. What is already in my home that creates a sense of warmth and joy? I am obsessively grateful.
People ask me how in the world I am so joy filled, happy, and okay after all that has happened in these past few months. I immediately respond with: gratitude.
Being grateful immediately interrupts anxiety and negative thought patterns. It alters your universal vibration. It immediately shifts you from negative to positive and the universe returns your energy in kind.
Our beautiful little apartment is simple. It is light filled and full of fun, colorful items that I love. Each item is intentionale, beautiful and has a place- a home to return to to rest after we use it.
Every day when I come home, I thank this little apartment for caring for us. For coming into our lives and being just what we needed. One day, Miles and I will live in an eco home that we build on our farm sanctuary, and when that time comes I know I will look back on the peaceful, simplicity of this apartment with a grateful heart. You can simultaneously yearn and work for more while still being so grateful for all you have now.
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more..It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” Melody Beattie
I write this today for the person who thinks they’re alone. For the person wondering if anyone is going through what she is going through.
I write this today to speak of failure. To speak of change and growth and strength and survival.
I write this today because life breaks all of us. But some people grow stronger at the broken places.
Two months ago my husband came to me and told me he was not in love with me anymore. A shock for sure. Or more of an awakening? I was shocked to hear that he did not love me, but I think my soul and heart had known for a while. At first, I didn’t feel out of love with him. At first my instinct was to thank him for telling me, to preserve whatever I could of his opinion of me. I know from experience that acting out or begging someone to stay only pushes them further and further from you. In the past, I was the one leaving.
I woke the next morning and hoped it was a dream. I hoped through the night, because of how civilly I had reacted, that he was once again in love with me.
He was not. He was relieved to have told me. He was done. He wanted to try couples counseling but only for our son.
I had been asking to go to counseling for months. I knew something was wrong. Each of our daily fights ended in me wanting to leave. As I sat with my own heart and thoughts for the first time, I realized I no longer wanted this either. At least, not the version of this we had become.
I see my husband the way I see all people, as a human. We are family after all, bonded forever by our sweet son. I respect many things about him, and whatever our differences and hurts and wrongs and harms, I can always work to see those respected things.
His opposition has held a mirror up to me, I worked on myself in the comfortable pain and darkness of our relationship. When he became hardened or averse to me, I worked on myself.
In the past, I did whatever it took to be accepted. I changed the way I acted, dressed, looked and spoke in order to find love. I got very good at playing that part. In fact, I got so good at that part- I convinced myself it was what I wanted. The world wanted me to be a good mom and a good wife- so I became them.
Here’s the thing about playing a part- you end up leading two lives. The one that is outward facing. The one that makes the world comfortable and accepting. The other secret life is quiet. In the quiet of my heart, I dreamed my big dreams. I knew my talents, knew that I wanted more from this life than to be someone’s wife. Knew that I was made for more.
This is not to say that being a wife and a mama is not a beautiful path, it is the most beautiful calling for some. But when it is not yours, or not your only one, trying to fit yourself into that mold can hurt. And trying to live as someone else can lead to darkness. Talents and skills and dreams and wishes and hopes are like any other living thing – they can’t grow in the dark (Rachel Hollis).
So I’m stepping out of the dark. Away from the heavy burden of a partner that does not love me, not the real me, and I’m stepping into the sun.
I almost didn’t. I almost stayed in that dark, lonely place. I tried to forget all my dreams and plans. Tried to mold myself into the woman he wanted. But in the end it made us both sad and contemptuous. Each blaming the other for how bad it felt to try to fold ourselves into the partner the other wanted.
We did one thing right, however. We created Miles. And for him, I will be forever grateful. My beautiful son.
People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. That’s what everyone tells you to want. But I think a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life (Liz Gilbert). In this way, my husband and I were soulmates.
Not life partners, nor meant for each other, but we were mirrors held up to each other and through that, we grew.
I don’t regret one bit of this. I am only grateful. Grateful for Miles, grateful for our wedding and marriage. Grateful for our mutual trust and understanding that we will be exceptional co-parents to Miles for as long as we live. Grateful that I know during this next year of separation that I will not seek partnership, I will only seek myself.
We will be forever tied, forever respecting one another as we raise our boy. We will be family forever, friends with a common goal. The expression ‘conscious uncoupling‘ has become synonymous with a divorce where both partners accept that they each played a role in the breakup and, in particular, are looking to co-parent in a functional and healthy way in the future. Into this new world we travel.
I am not saying that any of this has been easy. That finding out the person I chose for life is no longer choosing me. I’m not saying that there were not nights of weeping or that I don’t still re-enter the grief cycle.
What I am saying is that we can do hard things. That perfect, pretty plan we have worked out in our heads might not be what we’re meant for after all. That we are made for more.
“It’s not selfish to love yourself, take care of yourself and to make your happiness a priority.”
For the past year or so, I have been pretty terrible at self care. The moment I had Miles, I lost myself to the role of mama. Diving in whole heartedly, head first, eyes closed- drowning. Self care went out the window the day that little man came into this world, and oh boy has it caught up with me.
I have always been a huge proponent of self care. Talking about it, telling my friends and family to do it, but never really doing it myself. The occasional bath or book, sure, but not daily routines to care for myself. In fact, my daily routines were based on deprivation and guilt.
At my worst, I would avoid getting myself food and water just so Miles wouldn’t have to be inconvenienced for even a moment. “No, no- I can’t stop to get a snack now, Miles needs me.” What Miles really needs is a happy, healthy mama that cares for herself. A mama so full of love and joy (and food and water) that she can’t help spilling out that goodness to the people around her.
Mama guilt is heavy. Heavy, and mean, and ultimately pointless. Sacrifice of the self does nothing to help others. What is left after self-deprivation and unnecessary sacrifice is mean and tired and hungry and sad and empty. Never to Miles, but to my people- to myself.
I have just started to give myself the love and care that I regularly give to others, and I have started to give the world the best of me- not just what’s left after work and being a mama.
Life will always have challenges. It will never be perfect. We can’t wait for the world to get better, for the perfect job, for more money, more time, a different life stage, or a different baby stage. All we have is today. And each day we wake up healthy is the biggest gift. Physical and mental health is everything, as long as I have it and Miles has it? I have enough to have a beautiful day.
Below are the things I have started doing daily to finally start caring for myself. I want to give the best me, not just what’s left. I hope you can find something in this list that speaks to you.
1. The Five Minute Journal. This simple, daily journal is like a toothbrush for your mind. The prompts encourage you to feel gratitude and positivity every morning and every evening. Since starting this practice, my entire mindset has shifted. No longer do I wake up thinking about how exhausted and drained I am, instead, I wake up grateful to be alive! Grateful for my warm bed, a delicious cup of coffee, my health and the health of my baby. I then close each evening reflecting on 3 beautiful things that happened that day and how I’m going to make tomorrow even better. No matter how crappy your day, there is always beauty to be found. You do not have to buy this journal to start this daily practice, click here for a video on the questions this journal contains and how to get started.
2. Meditation. I have known about the concept of meditation since birth. I was born in a Hindu ashram in Wawayanda, NY and grew up meditating with other little ones. Watching my mama chant and meditate daily. But just because you know about a concept, doesn’t mean you practice it. I am a bit notorious for taking in information. I am a voracious learner and questioner. I love to take in information at an intense pace. I love podcasts and books and personal growth and NPR- Learning is my super power. But the thing is, taking in new information without ever practicing, applying or mastering it is ultimately useless. You have to be willing to put in the day to day work of these things to see any result. I am finally focusing, and slowing down enough to master something before moving on to the next thing. I can still get excited and take in new information, but I can’t lose my daily focus in the process. I have been using the calm app daily to meditate and soothe my heart and mind. I have been going though one of the toughest things I have ever experienced recently. A huge life upset that was a result of lack of self care, and so many other things. As a result, around 3PM each day I feel myself getting sad, lonely and anxious. The moment I start to feel this way, I know it’s time to meditate. I take just 10 minutes for myself, in a quiet dark room, to meditate. Personally, I love the calm app because it has topics I can focus on, my favorite right now? Forgiveness. Forgiveness of others, and self. If you find yourself with daily highs and lows, anxiety or depression- try daily meditation. Just 5-10 minutes during your day to care for your lovely self- then repeat.
3. Outlander. My sister has been begging me to watch this show for about a year and I finally took the time to start it. To do something completely mindless and just for me. I love it so much I can’t stand it, I want to go to Scotland and live in the highlands and wear a kilt (or see the lovely male lead in a kilt-ha!). Your indulgence certainly doesn’t have to be the show Outlander, but find something lovely and freeing and mindless to completely lose yourself in- and don’t feel guilty for doing it, not even for a moment.
That’s it for now, three things I have put into practice to care for myself. Rest and self care are so important. Take it from someone who didn’t do it for so long that things broke. Don’t blame yourself or others for not doing it, just start taking the time for yourself. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow.
An empty lantern provides no light.
P.S. I recognize that I live a privileged life, and if you have an electronic device and time to read this blog post, you probably do too. I acknowledge the privilege of self care, and I am going to take full advantage of this gift that I am so very grateful for.
P.P.S. You may have noticed the title of my blog has changed! BonnieRaeMoore.com